Although customer complaint management can seem like a dreary task, it’s a crucial part of the customer experience. Not every customer will be happy every time, and it’s important to understand precisely what’s behind this dissatisfaction. Without effective complaint management procedures in place, unhappy customers will remain unhappy; you risk new customers becoming unsatisfied for the same reasons, and negative word-of-mouth will eventually have an adverse effect on your company’s reputation.
While this is certainly a dismal outcome, it’s easily avoided with a reasonable investment of time and money. With a strong understanding of your customers and your desired customer experience, you can develop clear customer complaint management processes, and then choose a software solution to support these processes.
As you begin developing, or refining, your approach customer complaint management, there a few things to keep in mind.
Remember the customer experience
When handling complaints, remember that your customer is already unhappy. You should be just as mindful of the customer experience in the complaint management process as you are in the sales and marketing processes. Be helpful, friendly, and patient. Be willing to help. Be ready to help. The benefits of customer complaints are two-fold: the opportunity to earn back a customer’s trust, and the opportunity to improve your product or service.
To realize these benefits, you should make the complaint process easy and painless. Don’t take too much time, don’t ask too many questions, and don’t argue. Get the information you need, offer a solution, or clearly define the next steps if you can’t immediately solve the problem.
Stay in touch
If you’re not able to solve a customer’s issue immediately, the very least you can do is keep them in the loop. They’ve taken the time to file a complaint, so you should always let them know you’re listening and working on the problem. If it’s an e-mail complaint, acknowledge that you have received the complaint. If an issue is escalated, or moves forward in the process, give them an update. Whether it’s e-mail, phone, or text, customers simply want to know what’s going on. Set the expectation, then do everything you can to exceed it.
Put simply, make it easy for customers to get in touch. Of course, you don’t need a COMPLAIN HERE button on your home page, but a clearly marked call-to-action is a pretty good idea (think: Get Help, Ask a Question, Let us Know). Make sure your customers can easily find out how to get in touch with you, where the best place to submit complaints is, and what they can expect after filing a complaint.
Basically, if a customer has information they want to give you, make sure it’s easy for them to do so.
Analyze the data
Customer complaints are not only an opportunity to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to customer care, they are a valuable source of data to identify and correct recurring issues; improve your product or service; and begin anticipating future issues. As your capture, track, respond to, and analyze customer issues, this information also becomes the fuel to ignite further innovation.
As much as you want your customers to be completely satisfied all the time, it’s just not going to happen. Expect complaints, and embrace them. Rather than look at customer complaints as failures, treat them as an opportunity to better meet your customer’s needs. By fielding complaints proactively, you have a chance to show dissatisfied customers how much care, and how much you value their business.
Overall, a robust, well-planned, better-executed, complaint management process will help align your people, processes, and information to better serve the needs of your customers, while helping your organization remain helpful, relevant, and engaged. You’ve earned the customer’s business, now it’s time to keep it.